Kpopalypse is back with another episode of Kpopalypse Interview!
I’ve got to thank Asian Junkie for this one, for alerting me to the following:
Obviously I was curious with a Tweet like that (what else would I expect from Asian Junkie the reigning king of k-pop SEO), so I went and had a look:
Well, I certainly knew what to make of it. The Disqus prompt at the bottom of the page to “find more interesting discussions” seemed like a good idea, and I wondered if I could find my own more interesting discussion with Tvixxbar. She certainly seemed keen to get the matter off her chest, so why not help? As a bully victim myself who went through all kinds of unspeakable horrors during my school days, I could certainly relate, and I can’t imagine how much more bitter and upset I’d be if my abusers became vaguely successful pop stars instead of the welfare-collecting drug-addicted dropkicks that they ended up becoming. So I sent out a message:
It took a few days, but Tvixxbar eventually got in touch via email, and we had the below conversation which I’ve now published for your information and educational purposes.
DISCLAIMER: obviously, I don’t know if the allegations in this post are true – after all, I wasn’t there. Hence “alleged’ in the title. However if the question is “do I believe Tvixxbar’s claims” then the answer is “yes”. Keep in mind that I approached her for this, she didn’t approach me. Tvixxbar also provided photographic evidence that she did go to school with Eric, which you’ll see below, and her story has been corroborated by others who went to the same school, which you’ll also see below. When speaking to her about this, I found her straightforward, compelling and convincing.
WHY I AM DOING THIS: I don’t usually publish “expose” type content like this. It feels weird to be “participating” in a scandal instead of criticising the creation of scandals. However it’s not my intention to create a scandal, specifically, although I do understand that could obviously be a side-effect of this interview being published. While I do have my apprehensions, I have decided to publish this interview for two reasons:
- I think that the uncritical idolatry of young men and women in k-pop groups is a dangerous thing, and many k-pop fans could use regular reminders that idols are not saints, I think it’s helpful for the mental health of k-pop fandoms as a whole to see the full picture of a person which the Korean pop industry goes to great efforts to conceal. I understand that nobody’s perfect – I’m certainly no saint myself, and I was certainly a total douchebag when I was younger who probably deserved a great deal of the bullying that I received, however nobody is out here putting me on a idol-type pedestal (and if they are, they really need to stop that). Idols are just people with the same flaws as many of us and are neither as perfect as the k-pop industry’s glamour machine makes them seem, nor as evil as they are in the deluded worldview of an anti-fan. Well, usually not.
- As someone who I do believe was bullied, I as a bullying victim feel a moral obligation to help Tvixxbar. Putting her story out into the public realm may help give some closure to the pain in her past. There’s certainly a sense of justice to it.
To me, the above two points outweigh any other concerns. There’s also the added bonus that k-pop fandoms really won’t like this article being published, but that’s okay, they all pretty much hate my anyway, so fuck ’em.
Note that Tvixxbar isn’t all that verbose, so you’ll be spared the usual walls of text that usually make up a Kpopalypse interview. Obviously the subject under discussion is a very sensitive topic and I didn’t want to push Tvixxbar too hard, or have her reveal anything that she wasn’t comfortable revealing. However I feel that she definitely reveals enough for you to join the dots and get a good general picture of what was going on in her middle-school. Allegedly.
Where do you live, and how do you know Eric?
I live in Southern California. Eric says he’s from L.A. but we’re not exactly from L.A, we’re from SoCal, from Orange County. I’ve known him since fourth grade. He moved from Korea to where we are in 4th grade, we were in the same 4th grade class. He was okay in middle school and elementary school, except that one time when he ran into a parked car and broke his leg, but that was… weird.
[laughs] He did what, sorry?
He ran into a parked car and broke his leg.
What, on foot? Was he on a bicycle…
Nothing, he just ran into it.
Anyway he was okay in fourth and fifth grade, it was in sixth grade when he started getting a bit bad. He just gradually over the years started to become more mean. I do remember people who he hung out with in sixth grade were a bit bad too. I was in a few of his classes with him and he would just be saying really nasty things about girls.
Can you give me an example? Don’t worry, my readers can handle it.
He’d slap girls’ butts without permission. Also we had a special needs kid in our English class. The kid kept on asking a lot of questions because he can’t help it, that’s just like one of his things. So all of a sudden Eric called him the R-word, even when the teacher told him not to, he got into a fight with the teacher.
Just a verbal fight?
Yeah a verbal fight, like “you can’t tell me what to do! It’s true that the kid’s dumb!” I really didn’t like it. He’d also just make jokes about girls and stuff, like they were objects.
When did he start specifically bullying you?
Around seventh grade.
What sort of things did you experience?
Just emotional, verbal bullying, he would be saying really mean things. I was really insecure about my weight and he would be like calling me a pig and everything.
Did he ever co-ordinate the bullying with other people, or was it just him acting alone?
It was him sometimes alone in class, when he was at lunch he would throw tinfoil balls at other people and me. When I told the teacher he started yelling at me that I was a snitch.
So you did tell the teachers at some point?
Yes, and it got worse after that.
Did you ever try any other strategies to get him to stop bullying you?
I moved places, and he found me, and kept on throwing stuff at me again.
What do you mean by moving places?
I was at a bench area, and then when he bullied me I moved to this certain area near a flagpole where you can sit. I moved there and he followed me there, and him and some of his friends went around there and started throwing stuff at me and my friends.
Did anyone else try to intervene on your behalf?
Many people have. One of my friends is gay, and when Eric figured that out he started saying homophobic things. All his friends were white boys and they were like… how do I explain it… whatever Eric said, they would be egged on to do more things to other people. I’m sorry, I’m not very coherent with this.
That’s okay. So this started in seventh grade, what grade are you in at the moment?
I actually just graduated from high school, so I’m actually the same grade that Eric would have been if Eric was still in here.
Have your feelings about what happened changed over time? Do you feel the same way now as back when you were experiencing it?
Back then I felt like “karma’s going to get to him, he’s gonna suffer in the future” but now I’m just very bitter, like “why? Why should he bully other kids?” My friends are still affected from what he said to them, and he’s out there being an idol, happy and stuff…
Well maybe so, but being an idol is probably not really all that happy an existence! [laughs]
Yeah sure, yeah! But more the fact that there’s many people adoring him and thinking of him being cool and stuff when he’s actually a bully. I don’t know, people on Twitter, what they said to this girl was pretty harsh. If I said that to people out loud, would they treat me the same? If Eric wasn’t famous and he did the same thing, no-one would have let him off.
Obviously some people aren’t going to believe you and they’re going to think you’re a hater or an anti-fan, how do you respond to that?
Some people have said “oh, it was in the past, he was only like thirteen”, but it doesn’t matter – what he did is still affecting people negatively today. I don’t even have any good memories of middle school because of him, not even one single good memory. Every single day I was bullied by him.
Do you have any proof that the incidences occurred? You’ve provided some proof that you did go to school with him…
Well I didn’t videotape getting bullied…
I don’t necessarily mean video.
I do know other people who have said that he was a bully in middle school on Twitter.
What do you hope would happen from public expose of these allegations? What would your ideal outcome be?
People being able to look at both sides of something before saying really rude things like “oh the person who wrote this is probably writing a Wattpad fanfiction” or something like that. That hurts, because making a joke about someone’s bullying experiences isn’t funny.
People are also going to think that you’re specifically trying to hurt his career. Is that true?
No, I actually like The Boyz, I like some of their music.
…but you understand that this interview will have an impact, right? At least potentially?
Yes, I do understand. It doesn’t matter. He did something bad and it kind of should be out there.
If Eric himself reads this interview, what would you like to say to him directly?
I would ask why he did that, and what made him change, because in fourth and fifth grade he was like the sweetest person on Earth!
What do you think it was, that made him change?
I don’t know. At first I though it was maybe because he moved into a new country, and was trying to get along with people, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be a douche.
He moved countries?
He wasn’t born in California, he was born in Korea and then he moved to L.A. in fourth grade. I remember in the middle of the fourth grade he moved.
…but he wasn’t a douche straight away, right?
Yeah he wasn’t a douche straight away!
So why do you think he developed that?
I think the people that he hanged out with. Sometimes he would be the one instigating the people that he hanged out with to do harm to others. So I’m not sure. [inaudible] – bless her. I don’t know what happened to him.
Is bullying in general still an issue for you?
No, not much, because now I know how to handle it, now that I’ve matured.
How are you handling it these days?
About the same but I’m not much of a social person so I just don’t go to much social settings!
Were you being bullied before, by other people, before the whole situation with Eric started? Were you someone who was a bully target generally?
I think he saw me being bullied and he wanted to join in, in a way. I think he thought “oh she’s getting bullied, I might as well join in”.
Thanks very much for talking to me about this! Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
No – thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about this!
Thanks for reading this interview! Are you, or do you know, someone involved in the world of k-pop who would make a good Kpopalypse Interview subject? If so, get in touch!